Stunning footage has revealed the moment a huge fork of lightning is seen rising from the top of a tower block and into the clouds.
The unusual phenomena was seen by scientists using a high speed camera at the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) in São Paulo.
It is artificially triggered as a result of environmental changes caused by human activity, experts said.
The powerful electrical discharge traced a jagged path across the dark sky.
A thunderstorm surrounded the small town near the mountain of Pico do Jaraguá.
Marcelo Saba who helped take the images said: ‘Most of the lightning – 99 per cent, originates in the clouds and hits the ground.
‘Only one per cent, known as ascending rays go upward, from the surface to the sky.
‘These atmospheric discharges arise mainly from high rise structures, such as telecommunication towers, wind turbines, lightning rods or skyscrapers.’
An intense electric field is needed at the top of a high structure in order for an ascending ray to spark.
Positively charged current from the elevated surface is then attracted to the large amount of negative charge concentrated at the base of the overhead clouds.
This attraction then triggers a discharge and a huge spark upwards into the clouds.
Scientists used a high tech camera capable of recording 4,000 frames per second to capture the fascinating formation.
Mr Saba said: ‘The camera was placed on the fourth floor of a building facing the Jaraguá Peak and close to two tall tower blocks.
‘The upward flash initiated from one of the towers, a 130 metre high building, started when another flash occurred nearby.
‘This flash caused an imbalance in the charge distribution in the thunderstorm clouds gathered over the tower.
‘The charge disturbance in the clouds sparked an upward moving discharge from the top of the tower which rose up towards the base of the cloud.
‘It then branched out, moving sideways and beyond.’
He revealed that capturing the rare occurrence is very difficult but interest in recording the event has been growing.
The weather expert said: ‘More countries are turning to wind power generation and installing wind turbines, more skyscrapers are being built and more telecommunication towers are being erected.
‘This has generated a corresponding increase in the number of upward lightning flashes causing a great deal of damage when they hit.’
Scientists are currently working to understand the formation of the ascending rays so they can formulate and introduce mechanisms of protection against this type of discharge.
‘These observations will help us to improve lightning detection systems, improve standards of lighting protection which in turn will help weather forecast systems and possibly mitigate lightning and storm risks for energy companies going forwards,’ Saba said.